Israeli Who Sought Evacuation of Contested West Bank Bedouin Village Builds Illegal Outpost Nearby

Boaz Ido is funding the construction of a large straw and mud brick structure just meters from Khan al-Ahmar, though no building permits have been issued

The straw and mud brick structure on a hill near the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar Boaz Ido is funding, April, 2019.
Emil Salman

An Israeli who has been active in efforts to evict the residents of the contested  Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar is setting up an a Jewish outpost without authorization just a few hundred meters from where the West Bank community is located.

Boaz Ido is funding the establishment of a large straw and mud brick structure in the vicinity of the Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim.

Ido runs the nearby Genesis Land tourism site and is an active member of the Jerusalem Periphery Forum ("Forum Otef Yerushalayim" in Hebrew), which is seeking to evacuate illegal Bedouin villages in this part of the West Bank.

>> Read more: Why Israel struggles to evacuate the Bedouin village that sparked a diplomatic firestorm | Explained 

Khan al-Ahmar was home to several dozen families from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, which is originally from the Negev but was expelled to the West Bank in the 1950s. They live in shacks and tents that also shelter their sheep. Efforts to evict the village has sparked international criticism.

The village has become a symbol of the battle between Israel the Palestinians over control of West Bank land in the Jerusalem area.

A visit to the site of the new Jewish outpost reveals that Israelis from moshav collective communities have been working to construct the straw and mud structure. They said the project is backed by Ido, who has also olive groves in the area, and is being carried out using sustainability methods that they studied.

In a telephone conversation with Haaretz, Ido confirmed that "you could say" that he is backing the new outpost, but he refused to answer other questions about the project. When asked whether there was any connection between the new site and another outpost, Haro'e Ha'ivri, which faces it on another hilltop, he said: "You are not entitled to know," and then cut the call short.

Information from the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank which was obtained by the left-wing Israeli organization Kerem Navot indicates that the site of the new outpost belongs to the nearby major settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim and is considered state land after it was expropriated by the Israeli government. There have never been official plans for construction and no building permits have ever been issued for the site.

The Civil Administration has issued stop-work orders in response to the construction. One source said that copies of the orders were distributed at the outpost several weeks ago but a recent visit to the site revealed that the order is being ignored and that work is still underway. That makes the outpost's status identical, from a legal standpoint, to Khan al-Ahmar, which Ido sought to have evacuated. The Bedouin village was also built on state-controlled land without permits and in violation of Civil Administration orders.

For its part, Kerem Navot, which monitors outpost activity and works to prevent the dispossession of Palestinian land by Israelis, said that to its understanding Boaz Ido has decided to establish a new Jewish settlement in the area. "It's no wonder that someone who has been investing so much energy into evicting the Bedouin neighbors who were in the area for decades before him is the same person who is investing a lot of energy into controlling land that he has not even a hint of a right to," the organization commented.

Ido, who lives in the area,  earns a living from the Genesis Land tourism site.

In November 2017, for example, he attended a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the premier expressed his intensions to evacuate Bedouins from unauthorized villages in the area.

Ido also attended a Knesset session on the issue and briefed members of a Knesset subcommittee on a tour to illegal Arab construction sites in Area C.

According to settler radio sation Arutz Sheva's website, in reference to the major highway to Jerusalem in the area, Ido told the Knesset members on the tour: "We cannot lose control of Route 1 and permit illegal [Arab] construction as in the Negev. We are working continuously on the ground and I am pleased that, for the first time, in 2016, cooperation with the Civil Administration has been stepped up, with corresponding results – a halt to illegal construction as well as a small reduction in the number of structures on the ground."